M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

Foundation awards $20.6 million at quarterly meeting,

$75.9 million granted in 2020

For Immediate Release

(Vancouver, WA) – With the publication of its Fall 2020 Grants Report today, the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust announced both a record quarter and a record year of giving as the organization celebrated its 45th anniversary serving the Pacific Northwest.

  • At the Fall 2020 Grants Meeting, Murdock Trust Trustees approved 70 grants totaling $20.6 million. 
  • Over the course of 2020, Trustees approved 474 grants for $75.9 million.
  • Since opening in 1975, the Murdock Trust has awarded more than 7,300 grants totaling more than $1.1 billion.

“This is a milestone that is inspiring, but also bittersweet, for our organization,” said Steve Moore, executive director, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. “We are moved because this is a testament to the hard work of our team and the foresight and wisdom of our benefactor, Jack Murdock. But it is also a somber moment because a significant part of our giving is related to the COVID-19 response and the historic events of 2020 that have been devastating for many.”

In addition to the Trust’s quarterly Strategic Grants program, the nonprofit foundation introduced two emergency support programs by invitation in 2020 focused on the COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery from the historic wildfire season.

“There is no question that 2020 was one of the most challenging years for our organization, but in many respects, it was also one of the most rewarding” said Moore. “Like many of our peer foundations, our Trustees recognized that the needs of the communities we serve would be on a scale and pace unlike anything we had seen before. They committed early in 2020 to increase our projected grantmaking and programming budgets and respond in ways that support those on the front lines of need in a timely fashion across the Pacific Northwest.

“Though we are heartbroken by the loss and destruction faced by so many, we are heartened and inspired by the rapid, people-focused pivots and innovations introduced by the nonprofit community to serve those in need. We are grateful to have played a small role in their work and for all the trusted partners and leaders across sectors who have worked to serve the common good.”

A Trend of Breaking Records

Grantmaking in 2020 marks the third time in four years the Murdock Trust set a personal best for community investment, previously achieving new highs in 2017 ($57 million) and 2019 ($67 million). Leaders at the Murdock Trust attribute this growth to both overall trends of the economy and the organization’s approach to its work in response to the enhanced needs of our communities in the PNW.

“Our effectiveness as an organization relies on a few factors,” Moore explained. “First and foremost, it is a tribute to the incredible work of the nonprofit sector. We like to say that ‘the fruit of our labor grows on the trees of others.’ We would not be able to make these grants if there were not a wide array of individuals and organizations committed to serving the diverse needs of our region.”

“It’s also a reflection of the dedication and commitment of our own grants and program team. We believe in a very personal, very relational approach to our work. Our Program Directors personally visit and meet with every grant applicant. While these in-person conversations had to pivot to virtual platforms due to social distance protocols, they remained committed to connecting with and engaging every organization directly. Our team has never worked harder or given more of their time and energy than they did in 2020.”

“But it is also a testament to our incredible investment team. Our generosity is a function of the assets we steward and the investment managers with who we partner. While we wish that we could fund every organization we meet, we must operate thoughtfully and strategically within our resources. Our investment team brings a unique, relational approach to how we manage our endowment. A method founded by our first Chief Investment Officer, Jim Martin, and that has continued under our current CIO, Elmer Huh, has helped our organization consistently provide great returns which has then allowed us to increase our investments in the community.”

45 Years of Service

In addition to the record-breaking milestone, 2020 also presented another reason for the Murdock Trust family to celebrate as the nonprofit foundation marked 45 years of service to the Pacific Northwest.

“Moments like this really give us an opportunity to reflect on the magnitude of the thoughtful investment Jack Murdock made into our community,” said Kimberly Thornbury, senior program director for enrichment, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. In her role, Thornbury works directly with grant applicants as well as oversees the Trust’s enrichment programming and much of the Trust’s work in convening senior leaders across sectors. “To think that decades after he passed away, his work and vision continue to change lives in positive and meaningful ways through our grantmaking, enrichment programs and convenings is incredible.

“We had hoped to visit in-person with many of our past grantees and partners to celebrate their work, but those plans obviously had to be put on pause to keep everyone safe and healthy. But our team is looking forward to seeing our partners face-to-face once the experts tell us it is safe and vaccines are distributed broadly. Perhaps we’ll be hosting a 46-and-a-half-year anniversary party instead!”

For more information on the organizations served by the Murdock Trust and our grantmaking process, visit murdocktrust.org.

About M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust

The Murdock Trust, created by the will of the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, provides grants to organizations in five states of the Pacific Northwest—Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington—that seek to strengthen the region’s educational, spiritual and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. Since its inception in 1975, the Trust has awarded more than 7,300 grants totaling more than $1.1 billion. For more information, find the Murdock Trust on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and on our website.


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